01 March 2004 11:50 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Investigations into the loss of the Bow Mariner are focussing on tank cleaning and venting operations carried out on deck prior to the explosions which sank the Singapore-flag chemical tanker off Virginia, US, CNI learned on Monday.
A spokesman for Norwegian chemical shipping group Odfjell, owner of the 39 821 tonne deadweight (dwt) vessel, confirmed today that routine washing and venting operations were being carried out on tanks which had contained some 20 000 tonne of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). The MTBE had been discharged in New York last week prior to the Bow Mariner sailing for Houston to discharge its remaining cargo - 11 000 tonne of industrial ethanol.
It was not clear, however, whether the first of a series of explosions which ripped through the 22-year-old vessel occurred in the tanks being cleaned. There were also conflicting reports, according to Odfjell, over whether a fire broke out on deck prior to the first explosion or as a consequence of the initial blast.
A full investigation is being carried out by the US Coast Guard at the request of the Singapore maritime authorities. Representatives from Odfjell and the tanker's manager, Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises in Greece, are co-operating fully in the investigation.
So far, six of the 27 crew on the Bow Mariner have been rescued alive, three bodies have been recovered and 18 are still missing, feared dead.
Odfjell and Ceres personnel are also helping with efforts to monitor the ethanol and bunker fuels which spilt from the 570-foot long vessel. Although the ethanol is expected to disperse naturally, the bunker fuel oil could pose a significant pollution threat. However, the Odfjell spokesman said it was estimated that prevailing weather conditions were likely to push the oil slicks further out to sea where they would probably break up under wave action.
An anti-pollution contractor has been engaged by Odfjell and Ceres. Together with US Coast Guard craft it is monitoring the situation to decide if a clean-up and oil collection operation is required and feasible.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
|ICIS news FREE TRIAL|
|Get access to breaking chemical news as it happens.|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX). Download the free tabular data and a chart of the historical index|